Useful Tips for Pot Tourists Headed to Colorado
Napa Valley has its famed wineries. Kentucky has its bourbon trail. As for Colorado? It led the way on legal weed. And Colorado has lots of it, with more than 300 recreational dispensaries in Denver alone, and social smoking venues starting to crop up.
The Colorado legislature approved new laws for marijuana delivery and public use in 2019, the same year the state surpassed $1 billion in cannabis-related revenue. The recreational marijuana industry in Colorado has come a long way since voters green-lit Amendment 64 in 2012.
Expert Tips From a Pot Pro
As the first of eleven U.S. states to legalize it, Colorado welcomes plenty of weed tourists, with 1 in 4 visitors from 2013-2018 listing cannabis as a reason for visiting. Whether you’re a newbie to weed (in any form), or you’re curious about the general pot culture and scene in Colorado, it’s good to learn the lay of the land. As lead trainer at Native Roots, a dispensary with locations throughout Colorado, Michael Pyatt offers his best tips about how to have the best Rocky Mountain high experience.
Q: What’s your best advice for a first-time pot smoker?
A: We recommend starting with a low dose and taking it slow. Various amounts of cannabis affect users differently. And if you chose edibles, they can take up to two hours to take full effect.
One common side effect of cannabis is anxiety, so if that happens, know that it’s ok if you do, and that the feeling will subside. Not everyone does, but it’s something to be aware of, especially for your first time. Also if that happens, you can also use several techniques to help with anxiety, including taking deep breaths and drinking plenty of water.
Q: What’s the number one question tourists ask you?
A: The most common question we’re asked is “Am I really going to feel 10 milligrams?” The answer is yes. Most users experience a pleasant and euphoric high after consuming 10 mg of edibles. In fact, most people feel the effects of cannabis after eating only 5 mg.
Q: Any particular strains that are best for first-time pot smokers?
A: Here are three of my favorite strands and why I recommend each one.
- Jillybean (Sativa Hybrid): Jillybean was bred originally for stress and anxiety relief. It’s stimulating for daytime use but not overly potent.
- Sour Tsunami (CBD Sativa Hybrid): Sour Tsunami became famous for being one of the first strains bred for CBD content rather than THC.
- Granddaddy Purple “GDP” (Indica): Grandaddy Purps is legendary for its calming and relaxing effects. New users will only need a couple of puffs to feel the relief.
Learn more about the types of cannabis and their effects here.
Q: What’s next for cannabis in Colorado?
A: The cannabis industry and culture is still in its infancy nationwide. However, I think terpenes are going to be a huge point of discussion very soon in Colorado. Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants, including cannabis, and they have different effects on users based on what strain they’re used with. Already in Colorado, companies are experimenting with adding terpenes to different cannabinoids to create a certain experience, every time. It’s possible that combining different terpenes will ensure someone has a specific type of high—like relaxing or creative—every time.
Important Laws to Know Before You Visit
If you’re coming to Colorado to partake in the pot culture, there are a few things you should know as you blaze your trail.
You Need to Be 21 to Buy It.
Yes, you can absolutely purchase recreational marijuana, even if you’re not a resident of Colorado. However, you do need to be at least 21 years of age. Colorado residents and tourists alike are allowed to purchase up to one ounce of weed at a time.
Also, many tourists imagine the bud scene to be akin to the bar scene. But, city regulations require dispensaries in Denver to close by 10 p.m., so you’ll want to get your marijuana run in during the day. However, some nearby cities have regulations that allow dispensaries to stay open later. Just west of Denver, in Edgewater, dispensaries are allowed to stay open until midnight. Same goes for Glendale, which borders Denver and has lots of bars.
Public Smoking Isn’t Allowed.
While you can’t smoke pot in public legally, things are slowly changing. In 2019 state legislators approved new social smoking regulations, allowing hotels, restaurants, and other venues to apply for pot-use permits. Denver become the first city to legalize social marijuana use in 2016 when voters passed a measure, however the city approval process has been slow to roll out. (Translated: Denver isn’t quite yet like the Amsterdam of old, with tourists enjoying the marijuana scene in cafes).
If you're headed to Denver, Colorado to indulge in and learn about the state's pot culture and industry, read these helpful tips before setting out on your Rocky Mountain high adventure.
The Out of State Visitors Guide To Marijuana In Colorado
Marijuana Laws In Colorado
Colorado made national history when on December 10, 2012, state Amendment 64 was enacted, which legalized the possession and retail sales of marijuana in the State of Colorado. This amendment effectively made the state of Colorado the only place in America where someone 21 or over can legally purchase, possess and consume recreational marijuana.
In addition to it’s natural scenic beauty, the passage of Amendment 64 instantly created what is now referred to as “Marijuana Tourism” both for out-of-state U.S. residents, and visitors from all over the world.
Can Anyone Buy Weed In Colorado?
Coloradan’s and out-of-state visitors raced to take advantage of the fact that Colorado is just 1 of 2 places on the planet where the possession and consumption of recreational marijuana by persons over the age of 21 is legal. This level of interest has generated a high level of interest from persons interested in the do’s and dont’s regarding legalities of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, which I will attempt to address here.
What About Federal Law Concerning Weed?
The federal government under the administration in place at the time Amendment 64 was passed has made it clear that they would not enforce federal law as long as Colorado state laws were being actively adhered to and enforced. However, under federal law possession and use of marijuana is illegal.
What Are The Ways To Legally Purchase Weed?
Initially, all pot shops were strictly cash sales only as banks were hesitant to allow credit card use for fear of money laundering issues. That has changed now and most pot shops in Colorado offer the option to legally purchase weed using a credit or debit card.
So Where Can I Smoke Weed in Colorado?
Public consumption of marijuana remains illegal in Colorado. The safest legal option for both residents and out-of-town visitors is to consume marijuana within the security of a private residence. So do not consume pot in any public area including parks, hotel rooms or even your parked car. All of these seemingly innocent places to use marijuana can easily lead to serious legal consequences.
Who Can Buy Marijuana While Visiting Colorado?
Any adult person over the age of 21 can possess and consume marijuana in the State of Colorado, period. Amendment 64 makes no separate legal classification regarding rights of Colorado residents vs. out of state marijuana tourists regarding the purchase, possession, or use of marijuana in state of Colorado.
What Are The Marijuana Purchase Limits?
Amendment 64 is defines a purchase limit of one (1) ounce of marijuana for Colorado residents (Must have a valid and current ID). Out of state visitors may purchase up one-quarter ounce of marijuana (Must also have a valid and current ID).
How Is Recreational Marijuana Sold?
Recreational marijuana is sold at state-licensed and governed dispensaries. Simply visit and produce your valid state issued ID to purchase recreational marijuana on the spot.
The state of Colorado originally provided licenses to 136 dispensaries located across the state to sell recreational marijuana. However, the locations of marijuana stores is subject to approval at the county, city, and town level. For example, in Colorado Springs, the sale of recreational marijuana was prohibited, but in nearby Manitou Springs, the sale of recreational marijuana was allowed.
What Are The Operating Hours for Pot Shops in Colorado?
Colorado state law mandates that that marijuana stores cannot open before 8:00 a.m. and must close before 12:00 midnight. However, these operating hours may be further restricted by county, city, or community ordinances.
What Is The Safest Way To Transport Marijuana Legally Purchased?
The safest way to transport pot is in your closed and locked trunk.
What Are The Driving Penalties For Smoking Weed in Colorado?
The legal problems that you will face if you drive while high are many, and severe.
If you are stopped while driving while stoned in Colorado, you will be subject the state’s “Express Consent” law. This law states that by taking the action of operating any motorized vehicle on a Colorado road constitutes automatic consent to a blood or breath test if law enforcement personnel has reason to believe that doing so while ability impaired, in this case – high.
To determine if you are actually driving while stoned, authorities will order that a blood draw be made and your blood sample tested for the presence and the concentration level of active THC metabolites measured in nano-grams per liter. If more than 5 nano-grams of THC metabolites are present in your blood sample, you will be charged with a DUID offense.
Other Things to Consider Prior to Visiting Colorado to Smoke or Purchase Marijuana
Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana is still very much an evolving process subject to rapid rule changes from area to area. People supporting this legislation want nothing but the best for this industry and encourage residents an marijuana tourists alike to enjoy this newly created right by purchasing and consuming marijuana in a legal and responsible fashion. We encourage anyone who has a question about smoking pot in Colorado to first check with a attorney regarding any recently updated rules that they may not be aware of.
Colorado made national history when on December 10, 2012, state Amendment 64 was enacted, which legalized the possession and retail sales of marijuana in the